Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Morality Quiz (Not Mine, Apparently)

In an upcoming issue of Time magazine there is a story called "What Makes Us Moral?" Accompanying the article is The Morality Quiz. It's five simple questions about five situations in which you would have to choose whether or not to take a human life. Go ahead and take the quiz. After each question, you can see how your answer compared to the other people who took it. I intend to discuss each of the five questions below, and I will discuss how I answered them and reasoned them out. One hint: I was in the majority only once as of the time I took the test. I'll be here when you're done.

Insert Jeopardy "Think" music here.

The questions in the quiz are used by social scientists to determine where humans draw the line on morality. My "Golden Rule", my moral philosophy of treating other people the way I would want them to treat me, governed how I answered those questions. I would not want to be the one sacrificed on someone else's say-so, at least not without the chance to offer myself up voluntarily.

I'm not an orphaned baby whose cries could fatally expose a group of adults (BTW, did this scenario remind anyone of the last episode of "M*A*S*H"?), but I might be a severely injured adult in a great deal of unsoothable pain whose similar cries might jeopardize the lives of others. I wouldn't want someone else to make the decision that I should die or be expelled from the group to save the rest. But, believe it or not, I would be willing to voluntarily sacrifice myself to save others. I was in the 41% who would not smother the baby in the quiz. I'm a little concerned that three out of five people would do it.

Similarly, I could not order a person certain to die to be thrown overboard from an overcrowded lifeboat, but if I were the one injured and I was lucid enough to understand the situation, I would sacrifice myself to save the rest. I was a little surprised to learn that I was in that one out of every three that would not toss overboard a grievously ill person, and again I was concerned to see that two out of three people could do it. Perhaps the respondents weren't putting themselves in the place of the baby and badly-injured they would so readily sacrifice. In the case of the lifeboat sacrifice, I'm a little further disturbed that the percentage was higher than in the first question, even though this one clearly spelled out that the person being killed was fully aware of what was happening. Did people answer this way because they thought that this was the kind of resolution a leader should come to? Is it that they feel that a leader must be able to decide who lives and who dies in order to lead? Does a leader have that moral right in the first place? I do not believe that the test fully addresses that aspect of the moral question being studied.

Finally, the last three questions are based on the same basic scenario: There is a trolley about to kill five people and a way is offered for you to turn that five fatalities into only one. But it's not an easy choice like a random one of those five will die, but you can't know which. That would be simple. Yes, do what it takes to save up to four of those lives, and let the Fates determine who the unlucky one is. But in this case, the random death is not a random one of the five, but a completely different person. Each one has a different way in which that would happen, and you have to decide whether or not you would take the option given. Here's where the responses reveal something interesting. In the first one, you can throw a switch that will divert a trolley from killing five people in a group to killing one person by himself. The deaths are assumed to be imminent based on which track the trolley takes (which is determined by whether or not you throw a switch.) I couldn't do it. I couldn't knowingly throw that switch and kill that unsuspecting man on the side. I was almost shattered to learn that I was one of only 18% who couldn't throw the switch. An astounding 82% said they would do it. Remember that in my mind, I'm not simply saving five lives, I'm taking one. Even though the two are simultaneous and derivative of the same exact action on my part, I couldn't bring myself to kill another human at random. (Now I suspect that by now you're thinking I'm the romantic hero, but I do feel this way. Ask Jane. I have told her that even if we were in a group of people trying to survive a situation, and it was necessary for one person to sacrifice himself to guarantee the safety of the others, then I would do it.) If it were me stuck on the tracks and I could reach the switch and divert the trolley from their track to my own, thus killing myself but saving them, I would do it. That was not an option in this quiz though.

The fourth question changes the parameters of the first trolley car. In this one I was finally in the majority, but I suspect that it was because a lot of people taking these life and death morality questions are, at heart, cowards who don't believe in why they would do things they claim they would do. In this question, instead of throwing a switch to divert the trolley upon another innocent bystander, you have to actually throw an innocent bystander onto the track to save the five people. I was part of the five out of nine who said they could not push the bystander onto the track. Of course, in my mind, if I could push someone else off the bridge and onto the track below to save five people, I could also throw myself over. So why would four out of nine people say they could personally, with their bare hands, kill an innocent person to save five others? I'm not so sure they had alternatives in mind. Nor do they put themselves in the shoes of the guy they decided to sacrifice to save five other people. Kind of scary, when you think about it.

Even scarier are the results of the fifth and final question. Like the previous question, you have to cause another person to get thrown onto the path of the trolley, but instead of pushing them with your hands, you throw a switch that catapults them. (Again, of course, I said no.) Surprisingly enough, one of those nine people switched their position and decided that not having to actually touch the person they are condemning made it okay to go ahead and kill them. Now only four out of nine would not throw the switch, while five out of nine people said they would catapult someone to their death to save five other people. I have to wonder if they ever thought of themselves as being the one chosen to be sacrificed.

As the introduction to the quiz (and the aritcle itself) said, "The deepest foundation on which morality is built is the phenomenon of empathy, the understanding that what hurts me would feel the same way to you." I don't think I find it comforting to know that a majority of my fellow humans would sacrifice me against my will to save the lives of others. Yes, I believe it a noble thing to do it voluntarily (perhaps it's why I say I would do it, but I really would), but I also find it inhuman and inhumane to decide to sacrifice someone else, especially a particular someone else, for the good of the group. Drawing straws to see who must done for the others at least brings the element of fairness to the situation. The losing straw could be anyone's. I think we can accept the random death of one person if it ends up saving the group. But the deliberate murder of a single person, whether or not it could be rationalized as anything other than what it is, is more disturbing. Has our morality grown very high from its "deepest foundation" if so many people can forget what it might be like to be the one picked against his will to die so that others may live? I fear we have a long, long way to go before our species is ready for the next step in the evolutionary journey. We might reach it way before then, but we won't be ready for it. And that could be the momst frightening thing of all.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Private Accounts, Public Disaster

The Associated Press is reporting what some of the major party presidential candidates have to say about Social Security (see article at Raw Story.) In a nutshell, three of the Democratic candidates (Sen Hillary Clinton, Sen Barack Obama, Sen John Edwards) have all said that they favor "higher payroll taxes on upper-income earners" (I agree, as millionaires who wouldn't miss their future Social Security checks if they never got them won't miss the extra taxes taken from them); and five of the Republican candidates (Gov Mitt Romney, Gov Mike Huckabee, Sen Fred Thompson, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Sen John McCain) have all said they favor private accounts (which, make no mistake about it, is equivalent to saying they wish to abolish Social Security altogether.)

Money paid out in Social Security benefits today did not come from a Lockbox, but from the FICA taxes taken out of your paycheck today. It's basically a direct payment from your paycheck (and your employer's wallet, too) to the people getting the benefits. If you start telling people they don't have to pay into the system, less money becomes available to pay today's recipients. Since benfits are guaranteed, the difference must come from one of two sources - either higher taxes or more borrowing. Of the two, it is really better that we raise taxes on those who could most afford to live without the money. Should their benfits also increase since they'll be paying lots more into the system? Like I said, we're talking about the kind of people who wouldn't miss their Social Security checks if they never got them. Why bother raising their benefits? Does anyone really need to be that wealthy? Seriously.

What about the other candidate? Well, Congressman Tom "Bold Enough To Say It...(You're All Going To Die)" Tancredo favors private accounts. (There appears to be no truth to the rumor that Tancredo wants "to tax illegal immigrants back to their home countries".) There's Congressman Ron Paul, in addition to eliminating taxes on Social Security benefits (a fine idea), also favors private accounts. Finally on the Republican side, Congressman Duncan "Chicken Pilaf Dinner" Hunter" supports, you guessed it, private accounts. One of the abilities of the super smart people is a keen eye for pattern recognition. You won't need their help to see the pattern here. The Republicans seem Hell-bent on destroying Social Security.

What about the other Democrats? Funny you should ask. I've got that right here. Sen Joe Biden promises to "Protect Social Security, Not Privatize It". (He said so on his site.) Sen Chris Dodd suggests a Universal 401(k), and no privatization. Gov Bill Richardson didn't seem to have much to say about Social Security on his campaign site, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich didn't mention a plan for Social Security on his website, either, as near as I could tell. And finally, Sen Mike Gravel, who crawled out from under a rock to run for president, didn't make it easy for me to find his plan for Social Security on his website.

To follow news about all the candidates, I recommend Politics 1. I also recommend you not focus only on the Democratic and Republican candidates for president. They are not your only choices. That's just what they want you to believe.

UPDATE: Thanks to a fellow Critter, here's what Mr. Kucinich has to say about Social Security.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mum's Window

Almost exactly three years ago, as we were all stunned and in mourning over Bush's "re-election", my mother lay dying in a hospital bed in my old bedroom at home. We had decided not to tell Mum the outcome of the election, knowing that she would only be more worried about our futures and our country's future. Mum had been alarmed and frightened during Bush's first term, and was concerned enough (although extremely proud) about our involvement in anti-administration politics, that we didn't want to add to her worries. At this point, Mum's only contacts with the outside world were our family, good neighbors, a few visitors, and the windows of my small childhood bedroom.

One window faced west, and we had decorated it with various stained-glass pieces to catch the afternoon sunlight. One late afternoon in the week before Thanksgiving, after a cold, blustery rain, the sun finally broke through shortly before sunset. Suddenly Mum's window was gloriously lit, with the setting sun gilding every raindrop still stuck on the window's screen and glowing through the stained glass. I didn't think that I had time to get my camera, so Mum and I just watched, oohing and ahhing, until the sun finally set and the spectacular show was over. Afterward, we commiserated over my not having my camera handy, but we were both glad that we were able to share the beauty.

Luckily, Mother Nature apparently was pleased enough with her work to show it again the next evening, when I did have my camera handy. The resulting pictures (shown here both with and without flash) serve as a reminder to me that no matter how horrific circumstances are, brief moments of beauty can fill the heart, most especially when shared with a loved one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Angry White Man (A Song Parody)

We've all heard them at one time or another. The Angry White Man on the radio or TV bitching and moaning about this or that. They're never happy (unless some liberal is getting hurt somehow), and they always seem to have this hatred they feel the need to spew at some "other". Sometimes they name the object of their vitriol, and sometimes it's just a vague, nebulous group, which may or may not exist. For them, I dedicate this song parody. It doesn't have to be about any one in particular, you can pick your favorite and I'm sure it will apply. Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael "The Savage" Weiner (I hope you know his real last name is "Weiner"; it might explain things), Sean Hannity, whoever you want it to be. I hope you enjoy. This is to the tune of Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man". Thank you, Mr. Joel, for providing me with another great song to use. I hope you don't mind.

Angry White Man
(Original Words and Lyrics "Angry Young Man" by Billy Joel
Additional Lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2007)

There's a place on the air for the angry white man,
With his working class act and his immigrant ban.
He refuses to think. He refuses to see.
He always believes he's the best that can be.
And he's proud of his views and the beatings he takes.
And he whines and he cries as he lays out the stakes.
And he'll likely be known as the Angry White Man.

Give a forum or two to the angry white man,
With a beef for the world and a hate for his land.
He was called on his lies but he misunderstood.
It's a comfort to know that his critics are good.
And he sits in a room with a microphone on.
And he wishes the non-Christian people were gone.
And he'll likely be known as the Angry White Man.

I believe he's reached the stage
Of thinking he's some kind of sage.
He thinks that racial purity's a noble fight.
I still believe in causes, too,
And think I'm just as good as you.
His show goes on no matter if he's wrong or right.

And there's somehow a place for the angry white man
With his head full of crap and his fear quite at hand.
And he's never been able to see his mistakes,
So he can't understand why they call him a fake.
But his honor's in doubt and his courage as well,
And he rants and he lies and he's stupid as hell.
And he'll go to his grave as an Angry White Man

There's a place on the air for the angry white man,
With his working class act and his immigrant ban.
He refuses to think. He refuses to see.
He always believes he's the best that can be.
And he's proud of his views and the beatings he takes.
And he whines and he cries as he lays out the stakes.
And he'll likely be known as the Angry White Man.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Give 'Em the Bird, Vote For a Third! Pt 6 - The Money Game

Rep Don Young (R-AK) is a perfect example of why campaign finance reform is so necessary in this country. According to a report in McClatchy Newspapers, about 85% [Correction: I mistakenly typed 895%. This was not intentional, and I was not being sarcastic. I meant 85%. My apologies.] of the money he raised to get re-elected came from people who did not live in Alaska. (Alaska only has one US Representative At Large). Why should any candidate for US Representative or US Senator be allowed to accept money from people who would not be constituents? There is no excuse for this, and it is unacceptable.

Let me give you a broad hypothetical. Suppose I was a multi-billionaire (many times over), and I wanted to heavily influence every Congressional race in the country. I want to see people in Congress who share my view about the licensing rights of the product I make and sell. Current law is eating into the potential for me to make billions more, and I want that to change. So I contribute the maximum amount allowable under federal law to a candidate in each and every race in the country. I will also part with several hundred million more dollars in soft money to the political parties. When the time comes to have legislation passed that would benefit me and, for the most part, me alone, to the tune of billions of dollars, how can legislators, some of whom might be voting against the best interests of their own constituents over mine, justify casting that vote? I'll tell you how. They don't, because they don't have to. They do it, I make billions, and most people never learn the truth. Why should I be able to wield that kind of influence over lawmakers who do not represent me in Congress?

How many people in Alaska knew that their sole Representative on Congress was taking $17 out of every $20 he raised from people he should care less about than the people from his state? If Alaskans liked him so much, then why did he need to raise money from people he's not supposed to be representing in Congress? As I have not looked into it, I do not know what percentage of his or her campaign funds his opponents collected from non-Alaskans, but I understand they were considered weak. If so, then why did he need so much money from outsiders? More importantly, why is this even allowed?

I know it sounds naive, but so many of our elected officials, who are supposed to be representing us, their constituents, accept money from people they won't be representing in Congress, and we all know that those political contributions are expected to be rewarded. None of them will ever admit this because it would be a crime to give back such favors in exchange for political contributions. Yet they do it, and they get away with it. And the reason they get away with it is because it's allowed. And it shouldn't be.

You want to clean up politics? You must start by banning any political contributions from non-individuals (that's means both corporations and Political Action Committees, or NAMBLA) and from people who will not be represented by that candidate in Congress. Otherwise, people you don't even know and will likely never meet will have more influence over your Representatives in both Houses of Congress than you ever will. And if they don't represent you, then you are being denied your constitutional right to a republican form of government. And that should bother you a lot.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

You Broke My Heart Again, John Hall

My Congressman, John Hall (NY-19), has done it again. He has failed to support the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney when brought to a vote by Rep Dennis Kucinich. I cannot understand why, nor do I accept his previous explanations. I met Mr. Hall a couple of times while he was running for the Democratic nomination. I even contributed to his campaign (it's a matter of public record). When I met him, I even mentioned that he and I were involved in the same event though with completely different roles. I was a Peacekeeper at the No Nukes Rally in Battery Park, and he was one of the many talented musicians who organized it and performed there. (And a fantastic job they did, too. It was one of the proudest days of my life to have played a small part in it.) I remember specifically telling him that I was concerned with the many abuses of power by both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He seemed to indicate to me that he was concerned also, but I guess he wasn't concerned enough to do something about it. Earlier this week, he had his chance, and he failed his constituents again.

Don't misunderstand me. I am quite happy with virtually everything else my congressman has done not only for the people of the NY-19, but for all Americans, including veterans. And he continues to oppose the use of nuclear power, especially while no safe method exists for the disposal of its deadly radioactive byproducts, and particularly when the lives and security of nearby residents are threatened by an unsafe plant. And I was pleased that he recently returned from a trip to Iraq more determined to end our involvement in the war there. And while all those were the right things to do, they did nothing to address the ever-growing threat to our constitutional and democratic way of life posed by the president and the vice president. I have even written to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about this.

It was when I spoke to him personally, and it remains to this day my number one concern. That is not to say I don't wish to see the war in Iraq ended, for that is why I and thirteen other people from our community participated in our monthly Peace March (to which, I am told, Mr. Hall was invited but could not attend. Perhaps next month, Mr. Hall? Second Saturday each month, 11:00 AM, Lakeside Park parking lot.) But the current war in Iraq and the danger of another military conflict in and with Iran, would not be a concern if Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were no longer in power. And nothing that anyone can say, especially those two men, would ever convince me that they don't want a war with Iran. Were you paying attention to the rhetoric in the run up to the war with Iraq, Mr. Hall? Does anything they've been saying lately about Iran sound eerily like any of that to you? (It does to a lot of us, in case you weren't aware.) Now, here's the most important thing to consider: Was any of what they said about Iraq that justified going to war true? Any of it? Of course not, and we all know that. Nothing they said that was true justified going to war with Iraq, and nothing they said that justified going to war with Iraq was true.

So why, I ask you, would you even consider giving them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they won't ignore the will of Congress and attack Iran anyway, whether they actually pose a danger to us or not? Has the threat of consequences stopped them before? I don't see how since, to date, there have been none! Has the fact that they are operating outside the law stopped them before? Considering how often they've blatantly (and even proudly) done it, it's hard to argue that it might. Remember all those signing statements where the president said he would ignore the law if it infringed on his "inherent authority as Commander-in-Chief"? Would you care to point out to me where in the constitution it says that the Executive Branch decides what "authority" is "inherent" in the role of "Commander-in-Chief". You can't, because it isn't in there. That authority is found in Article I, Section 8. The Congress decides how the military, including its Commander-in-Chief, will behave and what constitutes lawful and unlawful conduct. A president who abuses that authority and ignores the law, as this one has done so many times in the past, has committed an impeachable offense. Go talk to a law professor at George Washington University. Go talk to John W. Dean. They'll tell you that there are numerous impeachable offenses to charge the president with. And there are also impeachable offenses for which the vice president can be removed from office. Impeachment is the only constitutional remedy for removing men like these before their terms expire. There are no recall elections nor votes of confidence during their terms. We have to depend on our Representatives and Senators to recognize when a president and vice president have overstepped their authority and violated the sacred trust placed in them by their fellow citizens. (And I don't just mean the five who put them there in 2000.)

I will end this as I did before, Mr. Hall, for it still remains true. I cannot support a candidate for Congress who does not believe in the oath of office every public servant in Washington is required to take, including you, sir. By not supporting the impeachment of either President Bush or Vice President Cheney, two men who have frequently subverted the constitution in an effort to have their own way despite the will of Congress, one of whom has accelerated a thirty-year personal vendetta to restore power to the White House, and one of whom once told an aide to "stop throwing the Constitution in [his] face." (You remember, that document he swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend?) He then continued, "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" Are you are going to tell me, Mr. Hall, that these two men should not be removed from office through impeachment immediately, if not sooner? Do you honestly believe that if they remain in office, that on January 20, 2009, we won't already be in a hot war with Iran (and possibly Russia)? Do you think any president should be trusted with the kind of power these two men have amassed? I believe that most of your constituents would say, "No." It's up to you, Congressman John Hall. Remember your own oath of office and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Wayne A. Schneider

An Open Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

It is my understanding, from an interview conducted with Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that you would prefer that the Democrats in Congress spend no time impeaching, trying, convicting, and removing from office, Vice President Richard B. Cheney (nor President George W. Bush, for that matter). You would prefer, instead, that they focus on obtaining a bigger majority in the House and a Democrat in the White House in the 2008 elections. I would remind you, Madame Speaker, that the 2008 elections are still twelve months away, and the expiration of their terms of office another two-and-a-half months beyond that. That is more than enough time for them to start a war of choice with Iran. If you do not proceed with impeaching Vice President Cheney, the driving force behind the march to war with Iran, good men and women in our Armed Forces and innocent Iranian civilians alike will die. And you will have to live with the fact that you allowed them to serve out their crime-ridden terms unpunished and undeterred in their destruction of the Constitution you took an oath to support and defend against all enemies "foreign or domestic". President Bush and Vice President Cheney are two such domestic enemies, and it is your constitutional duty to defend the constitution against them. To prioritize your political party over your nation and your constitution is inexcusable.

Both of these men have claimed extraordinary, almost plenary, Executive powers found nowhere in the Constitution. They claim that the President has this "inherent authority" in his role as Commander-in-Chief during wartime (an excuse to always keep this country in a state of war, in case you hadn't noticed). The problem, Madame Speaker, is that they are making this up. No such authority exists anywhere in the Constitution. What does exist in the Constitution are the following:
Article I, Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power...
Clause 14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
Clause 16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Clause 18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Clearly it is the Congress that decides how our military, including its Commander-in-Chief, will conduct themselves. Nowhere in Article II does it state that the President, acting as Commander-in-Chief or otherwise, during wartime or in peace, has the authority to do whatever he wants with the military. The authority he has comes from the Congress, and it comes with a trust, a trust that he won't abuse that authority. Yet, time after time, President Bush has done just that. He has even gone so far as to lie to Congress about a terrorist threat against the Congress in order to get them to grant him more unconstitutional authority to spy on Americans. And for no reason or rationale I can understand, you want to keep trusting that he won't overstep his authority one more time. You want to trust that he won't lead this country toward an unstoppable war with Iran. Have I mentioned that good men and women in our Armed Forces and innocent Iranian civilians alike will die if he starts another war?

You and your party have let the President and Vice President define just how far his "inherent authority" goes. And based on their many public statements, they believe that this authority includes taking us to war pre-emptively against another nation. They cannot claim that declaring war falls within the President's constitutional authority to determine foreign policy, for declaring war is a power exclusively granted to the Congress. You know that President Bush has been listening to neo-con war hawks like Norman Podhoretz, William Kristol, and Sen Joe Lieberman. All of these men have publicly advocated that we go to war against Iran. You also know, Madame Speaker, that President Bush has no interest in hearing the views of those who oppose his ideas. So not only is he not listening to anyone who might try to talk him out of a war with Iran, he must have already made up his mind about it to be listening to people who think that's what we should be doing. And what excuse do you think he's going to use? How true are his reasons going to be and, more importantly, will the true statements be justification for war? Remember everything they said about Iraq and Saddam Hussein? (If you don't, just listen to what's being said about Iran. It's very similar.) As time went on, one thing about those statements became clear: Everything that was a justification for war turned out not to be true, and everything that turned out to be true was not a justification for war. The rhetoric from this administration toward Iran is following that same path. Given the number of times that they have lied to the Congress and the American people, why on earth would you ever consider giving them the chance to resolve our differences peacefully with the rest of the world? I beg you to tell me what it is in their history that makes you think he will only go to war with Iran "as a last resort"? Why do you even accept the premise that any war with Iran is necessary in the first place? In all the intelligence estimates that you have been granted access to, have any reported on how many good men and women in our Armed Forces and innocent Iranians alike will die in a war of choice with Iran?

Madame Speaker, the ONLY way to ensure that President Bush and Vice President Cheney will not lie this country into another war of choice is if they are no longer in a position to do so. They are not going to stop themselves. The American people are counting on you to do that. You have the authority. You have the capability. You have the responsibility. Impeach them both for ignoring their oaths of office. To do otherwise is to ignore your own oath. How many good men and women of our Armed Forces and innocent Iranian civilians alike will have to die because you put loyalty to your political party ahead of loyalty to your Constitution?

Wayne A. Schneider

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Picking My Brain 07-11-04

I'm concerned that the Mets are going to go after A-Rod. (That's Alex Rodriguez, a third baseman, and the highest paid player in baseball. If the Yankees wanted to keep him, they would have to fork over $350,000,000. (Did you know that the only reason his contract with the Yankees was as high as it was is because he insisted that he wanted to get paid twice as much as the next highest paid player? And now he thinks he deserves more?) I don't want him to wear a Mets uniform next year. Can he deliver on the home runs and RBIs? Of course he can, I have no doubt of that in my mind. It's just that he's not a team player, he's just a hired gun. And I don't think any player is worth that much money, especially when he chokes in the post season. A-Rod's post-season performance has been historically lacking. And the goal is to win the World Series, not just get ot the playoffs. The Mets should concentrate instead on fixing their pitching propblem, especially in the bullpen. We'll see what happens when the Winter Meetings come along.

I find it hard to believe that the nominee to be our nation's next Attorney General not only refuses to acknowledge that the interrogation technique known as "waterboarding" is torture (as several former Judge Advocates General said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committe Chairman Pat Leahy), but that the Senate will likely confirm him thanks to such numbnuts as Sen Diane Feinstein and Sen Chuck Schumer (my own Senator). Just because the guy is from New York and was recommended by Schumer himself to the president is no excuse to stick by him anyway. The guy's clearly trying to keep the Bush Administration in the clear using bogus logic. He's using circular reasoning. "We don't torture. If waterboarding is torture, then we don't do it because we don't torture. But I can't tell you if waterboarding is torture." But when pressed if waterboarding was itself torture, he would respond, "If it is torutre, then we don't do it, because we don't torture." But notice that he's not saying we don't torture. (BTW, those are not precise quotes, just paraphrases of his reasoning. He may have actually said something close to that, but that's the gist.) Of course, if we truly never did waterboard anyone during our interrogations, then it would have very simple to say, "Waterboarding very definitely is torture, and we don't do it because it is." But he didn't. He said that if it is torture, then we're not doing it. That's not the same. Call your Senators and ask them to block this nomination, even though Bush would just recess appoint him anyway. Let him. Let it be another albatross around the Republicans' necks.

Finally, Barry Bonds, the man who used performance-enhancing drugs to break Hank Aaron's all-time MLB Home Run record told an interviewer that he would not go to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony if they display his record-breaking baseball with the asterisk branded on it by the man who bought it on e-bay and asked the fans what to do with it. He still feels that he did nothing wrong, and that he did not use any illegal substances. He has admitted that he has used a substance which he says was flaxseed oil, but that is only what the guy who gave it to him said it was, and Bonds didn't question it. Other players, however, who were given the same substance knew it was illegal. Bonds' ignorance was willful but not exculpatory. The record is still tainted, and Bonds is living in denial if he thinks otherwise.

My own feeling? Sure, induct him into the Hall of Fame, but only after he's dead. Same as for Pete Rose. Keep Rose's "lifetime ban" just that - his entire lifetime. Once Rose dies, they can put a plaque in there for him, too. But neither man should live to see the day when they are honored by being placed into the Hall of Fame. If we're lucky, maybe both men's accomplishments will have been surpassed by the time they die, and there won't be any need to induct them.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Call Your US Representative to Support H. Res 333

Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will be introducing H. Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment against the Vice President. I urge each and every American out there (and if you are not American but have some American friends outside our borders, urge them to do the same) to call your US Representative's office and urge them to support H. Res 333. Before any vote on the privileged resolution, there will likely be a motion to table the bill, which means to set it aside and not vote on it. This will be how the cowards duck their constitutional responsibility.

Like all members of the federal government, US Representatives are under oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Vice President Dick Cheney (and President Bush, for that matter) have been waging a personal war against the constitution for their own vainglory and lust for power. They must be stopped. One at a time. Start with the Vice president. This is how we maintain a peaceful transfer of power in this country (other than as a result of assassination by someone other than the one taking over). Impeach. Convict. Remove. Now. Before he launches a war against Iran, which you know he's anxious to do.